Employees associated with essential services are allowed to travel in locals, but people living in the suburbs from areas like Kalyan-Dombivli, Kasara and Asangaon are still forced to travel by road as the frequency of local trains is very less. As they have to spend about 5-6 hours to commute by road daily, they are demanding that the railways increase the frequency and stops at stations where currently the trains do not stop.
"At present limited number of local services are available for the people associated with essential services in government agencies. However, many still choose to go by road, due to lack of frequency of trains. Hence, we are demanding an increase in the frequency of local train services and also to give a halt to these locals at all stations beyond Kalyan," said Shyam Ubale, general secretary, railway passengers association from Kalyan-Karjat-Kasara.
"Besides, the railway should show some pity on the commuters who mistakenly board the special train functional for exclusively railway employees. Last month around 12 such passengers (non railway employees) were charged with a fine of Rs. 400 for boarding the railway employee’s special train," added Ubale.
Currently, local trains accommodate only 2 percent of the total commuters from Mumbai suburbs, while the rest of the commuters are dependent on roadways to reach their work place in Mumbai amid pandemic.
"Though locals are running between CSMT (Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus) to Kalyan/Kasara, it does not halts at every station beyond Kalyan. This adds further inconvenience to reach the particular railway station and also the risk of missing the scheduled local. Therefore, many choose to travel by bus or by private vehicles," said a BMC worker for Asangaon, on anonymity.
According to Ubale, around 7-8 lakh population from Kalyan to Karjat/Kasara belt are dependent on the local train services to reach their work place. While, the commuters from Kalyan, Dombivli, Asangaon and Kasara who are working in the private agencies like banks, hospitals etc; are dependent on the road transport at present, who have to spend 5-6 hours or even more in traveling to reach their work place in Mumbai.
According to Central Railway (CR), Mumbai, amid the pandemic, a total of 350 local services are functional on CR. "The number of services are being run according to the government's guidelines. So far we have not received any directions from concerned authority to increase the frequency of the present running services. While, the local trains have been directed to halt at major stations, which can be easy for the railway staff as far as crowd management is concerned," said Shivaji Sutar, Central Railway, Mumbai.